The administration got its first taste of the growing American opposition to NSA surveillance and its impact on Congress today, when despite overwhelming opposition from both parties leadership, the White House and heavy lobbying by the NSA, Rep. Justin Amash (R – MI) brought the matter of telephone surveillance to a vote.
Public opponent is overwhelmingly against the NSA’s surveillance, but it takes a long time for it to trickle into the halls of Congress, and even longer to find its way into the Senate. That the Amash Amendment managed not only to get a hearing but to come within a hair’s breadth of passing is an encouraging sign that public sentiment is starting to get noticed on this issue.
Each side got just 7 minutes and 30 seconds to debate the matter, though the opposition to Amash (led by Rep. Mike Rogers (R – MI)) really didn’t need nearly so much time, focusing almost exclusively on accusing opponents of the NSA of “forgetting 9/11.”
The debate also included opposition condemning whistleblower Edward Snowden for even making the surveillance program public, and accusing him of aiding “the enemy” by making the details available. They insisted that was “all” he had done.
But without Snowden, the Amash Amendment could never have existed, the American public would never have known about this NSA overreach, nor could they have pushed so many in Congress to oppose it.
The vote is a defeat for privacy today, but it is a battle that will continue on.